THE European Union Election Observer Mission (EU EOM) should never go beyond its mandate by interfering in national processes and dictating to Zimbabwe how the country’s institutions and legislative framework should be structured, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi has said.
They should, however, only restrict themselves to noting what they would have witnessed during the electoral period. Responding to the EU EOM final report on the August 23-24 harmonised elections at a press conference in Harare yesterday, Minister Ziyambi said Zimbabwe will continue engaging the EU through the two parties’ formal political dialogue platform despite the bloc’s release of what Government has called a “misleading and biased report” on the country’s elections.
On Friday, the observer mission released its final report on Zimbabwe’s elections, which has been condemned for its bias towards the opposition and attempts to attack State institutions.
“Observers come to observe. So when observers meet a group of people who didn’t follow the due process of satisfying the requirements of the law in terms of their gatherings, they simply observe and take note of what that particular individual has said. Likewise, if they meet a group of people that are complaining that the other side is doing this, whether that complaint borders on an illegality on the act of the other party, they will simply note it. That is what observation is all about.”
Election observers, said Minister Ziyambi, should not be confused with election monitors.
“So, as Government, we are actually surprised that observers think that they are actually monitors, or they are here to change our laws.” He said Zimbabwe’s August 23 and 24 elections, while imperfect, were the most peaceful polls in the country’s history.
“On election day, it was very peaceful. During the campaigns, it was very peaceful. But you can never have a process where two or more people are having contestations where you do not have skirmishes here and there. There is no such thing that can happen.”
The country, he said, will not walk away from formal engagement with the EU, and will continue pursuing dialogue with the bloc over the country’s arrears clearance and debt resolution programme
“In terms of where it (the final report) leaves Zimbabwe in terms of its re-engagement and the debt clearance roadmap, we believe that our elections were done in terms of our laws as they are and our elections were done peacefully and (were) very credible. I was in the national (results) collation room at the national command centre where all political parties were represented, and not even a single election result from the constituencies was disputed by all political parties that were there, save for one party’s representative who said he was told that he must not sign for the results and therefore he could not sign. Section 93 of the Constitution is very clear about (what to do) when results are disputed.
This is one election where nobody challenged any result and they agreed to all council results, hence we found out that all the councillors were sworn in. They agreed to the National Assembly results, hence all the MPs were sworn; not even one said ‘no, I am contesting this result’. We believe our process of engagement in terms of debt clearance, our meetings will go as scheduled, and the Minister of Finance is leading that on part of Government, and we are going to meet everyone who is involved,” said Minister Ziyambi.
The dialogue’s terms of reference, he said, “were never that the opposition must win for the negotiations to continue”.
“So I think we will discuss with them, put all the facts as they are and implore them that we must continue where we left before the general elections.”
He said the harmonised elections were held in terms of all the relevant laws of the country. Government, added Minister Ziyambi, was now focused on development towards attaining Vision 2030.
“The message that I want to leave is that we are now at a stage where we believe that we take note of the (observer) reports … we will consider those observations that we believe will enhance our democracy and make our electoral processes better. But at this stage, the Government is now focusing on ensuring that we deliver on our promises and national development strategies.”
Minister Ziyambi also said Government has reason to believe that the EU and Sadc reports on Zimbabwe’s elections could have been produced by the same consultant.
“The Sadc and EU reports I agree, they are very similar. The AU’s (African Union) is substantially different from the two. But the Sadc one and the EU reports were written by the same person. If you go through the two, you can tell that they were drafted by people who were in the same room. We have said even when we got the preliminary report, we picked that these reports were done by perhaps one consultant. The people who were consulted … the issues that they were raising they followed a similar pattern. We agree with that there was a pattern.”